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Summary (from Publisher’s Weekly via Amazon): In a small town near a river not far from a city, the narrator, an unnamed high school sophomore, encounters new Goth arrival, Anna Cayne. Holden Caulfield meets the Blair Witch, perhaps–but our narrator is more sympathetic and Anna more fascinating than their counterparts. The narrator is unsure why anyone would pursue him (“I’m bland. I’m milk. Worse, I’m water”), but pursue him Anna does, charming him with intriguing postcards, reading recommendations and long walks by the river. He’s soon completely, hopelessly in love. But halfway through the story Anna disappears, leaving the narrator and the reader feeling lost and betrayed. The book becomes a search for Anna, complete with ciphers, codes, sightings and buried maps. Does affable art teacher Mr. Devon have something to do with her disappearance? Who was really driving the night fellow student Bryce Druitt slammed his car into the side of the bridge?

Review:  This book started out extremely interesting.  I read the first half so quickly, I assumed I’d be done with the entire book in just a couple of days.  The characters were interesting and I couldn’t wait to get to the mystery of what happened to Anna Cayne.  However, as soon as she disappeared, I kind of lost interest.   I almost didn’t even feel like reading the book anymore.

This is another book that reminded me a lot of Looking for Alaskaby John Green.  Anna was kind of up and down and into this and that and always coming up with crazy stuff for her nerdy boyfriend to do.  (Why do all books seem to have an Alaska Young and Pudge since I’ve read that book???)  It was almost annoying.  The similarities continued through the book even after Anna disappeared.  The narrator was left wondering why and with tons of unanswered questions – just like Pudge was left with questions about Alaska. 

This next paragraph could be a spoiler.  I felt as though nothing was answered.  All we were left with was the questions that had been building since the beginning of the book.  Why did Anna hate Mr. Devon?  Why did Claire end up in ICU?  What was the deal with the TV psychic?  It seemed like a lot of ideas were started and then were left hanging out in space. 

I understand a missing person case isn’t likely to have all lose ends wrapped up, but this is a work of fiction and I feel like the reader was left with no closure on any of the questions raised.  At least one answer would have been nice.  Maybe this is how families of missing persons feel.  If so, job well done Mr. Galloway.

I gave this book three stars because it is well written and it had a lot of interesting points.  It might have rated higher if I hadn’t felt like it was just another version of Alaska, which is all I seem to be taking out of the library anymore these days.

Up next: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



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Summary: Maddie, Lisa, and Ruth are all members of the Applewood PTA Public Relations Committee.  They’ve been approached by Lisa’s sister-in-law about using the elementary school as a set in a movie starring George Clooney.  This gets them on the wrong size of Suzanne, President of the PTA, who feels she should handle the project.

The woman are all going through different difficult personal issues while trying to keep the movie project on track and eventually the unlikely trio become close friends. (Side note:   I apologize for such a brief review.  The storyline was pretty complex.  There were three major characters who were having flashbacks and talking about their own personal lives in detail.)

Review:  I wasn’t thrilled with this book.   It was another audio book, read by Lisa Kudrow of Friendsfame.  I really like Lisa Kudrow and think she’s hilarious, but every single voice she did for this production was obnoxious.  Ruth was supposed to have a scratchy voice (like a smoker) but it just sounded like Kudrow was sick and needed to clear her throat.  It was horrible.

I know the reader doesn’t ruin storyline and characters, but these characters were pretty awful.  They were all selfish and bitchy.  Well, Lisa was a decent person, but Ruth and Maddie were almost unbearable.  They didn’t seem rational or as though they cared about anyone but themselves.  It was almost too much to listen to.  I didn’t empathize with them or really care if things worked out their way.  Suzanne was also a bitch for no apparent reason.  I didn’t mind if she got her just desserts, though.  The other women I just didn’t care what happened to them one way or the other.

The story did wrap up pretty nicely, although completely unbelievably.  I am always afraid to say too much because I don’t want to ruin things, but especially with Ruth my feeling was “YEAH RIGHT!” with the way her storyline was wrapped up. 

If you don’t have anything better to do, I might recommend picking this book up.  I would recommend reading it over getting the audio version, though.  Also, be warned, there are some pretty steamy, explicit sex scenes in the book including a threesome.

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Mystery Notes

I wasn’t going to get Paper Towns by John Green because I’ve read some many mixed reviews.

Then I went to Borders, was wandering around and picked the lone copy of it off the shelf and found this note stuck in between pages 114 and 115.

So naturally, I bought it.  Who could resist with a note like that stuck in the pages?

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Summary:  Chris and Win, short for Winston, are best friends about to graduate from high school.  Chris comes from a typical working class run-of-the-mill family, while Win comes from a very, very wealthy family.  Chris’s parents are very supportive of the things he does, while nothing Win does is good enough for his father.

The boys decide to do a cross-country bike (as in bicycle) trip.  Chris’s father is extremely excited about it, while Win’s father comes right out and tells him he probably won’t be able to complete the trip.

Chris and Win leave on their journey and have an exceptional time.  But towards the end, they get separated and Chris, angry, heads back east alone.  He goes off to college assuming Win has come home.  Then the FBI shows up at Chris’ school and start asking questions.  That is when Chris realizes Win never came home.

Review:  Originally, I picked up this book thinking it was the other Shift, which is about life after a disaster and is by Charlotte Agall.  I started reading anyway and I was quickly sucked into the story, trying to figure out what could have happened to Win.  About 2/3 of the way through the book I was able to figure it out (and you probably will, too) but it was still really good.

There was a lot of back and forth between present day and the boy’s bike trip.  The FBI agent would interview Chris about something and he’d answer and then the next chapter would be about the bike trip and you’d learn background information on what Chris had told the FBI agent.  It was neat.  You got pieces of the story at a time instead of the whole story.

Even though I figured out what happened to Win, I still didn’t know how the book would end.  It definitely wasn’t the ending I was expecting, either.  I don’t read a lot of mysteries (unless they are Agatha Christie) but I’m kind of getting into them a little more.  This book was kind of a mystery in a way because everyone is trying to figure out why Win didn’t come home and if he’s even still alive.

The story was also a good coming of age story and how growing up can sometimes mean growing apart from the people you love and the people you’re “supposed” to love. (I kept this book a few days overdue from the library because they wouldn’t let me renew it and I wanted to finish it.)


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Summary: Colin has been dumped 19 times and every one of the dumpers was a Katherine.  Not Catherine, Katie, Kate or Kat, but Katherine.  To make matters worse, child prodigy Colin doesn’t think he will ever grow up to be a genius and have a Eureka! moment.

Depressed and unsure of what to do, Colin and his friend Hassan decide to go on a road trip and drive away leaving Chicago in the distance.  Soon they reach Gunshot, Tennessee where they decide to stop and see the supposed grave of the Archduke Ferdinand.  They end up meeting Lindsey Lee Wells a free-spirited spitfire of a girl and decide to end their road trip and stay for a while.

Is it possible that child prodigy Colin could fall for a girl not named Katherine?

Review: This book reminded me a lot of Looking for Alaska.  Lindsey Lee Wells had a lot of qualities that Alaska Young had.  They were both kind of enigmas, always doing whatever she wanted and not caring about the world and just being a crazy wild funloving girl.  Colin also reminded me of Pudge – kind of a nerdy, no friend, loner.

I didn’t like this book quite as much as Looking for Alaska but almost.  Even though they were both similar, I really liked the characters.  I thought this book was a lot funnier also, which was nice.  Alaska kind of left me feeling depressed.  There were definitely a number of lines in Katherines that made me laugh out loud. 

I do feel like there were lots of loose ends left.  I don’t know if that’s how John Green intended for it to be.  It worked with the story, though.  Instead of having everything wrapped up in a neat finished package, you can kind of think how things proceeded from where we left off.  I’m just curious and always like to know the whole story and I kind of feel disappointed that I didn’t get it.

If you read Alaska and liked it, I recommend you pick up An Abundance of Katherines also.  It’s worth the time and it’s got math in it, which is awesome.


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Summary: Ellie Harris is being forced to move from Minnesota to Washington DC for a year with her parents.  At first she’s upset, but then her best friend Nancy reminds her that this is a chance to reinvent herself.

Ellie soon finds her new house isn’t so bad and she spends the summer floating in the pool for hours on end.  She finally is forced to start practicing for track and she runs into the cutest guy in school at the park.  He smiles like he knows her.

Once the school year starts, things that Ellie never believed possible begin to happen.  Her name sake – Elaine of Ascolat – plays a bigger role in her life than ever before and soon she finds herself deep in a crazy Arthurian adventure.

Review: I listened to this book on CD while driving the long drive back and forth between home and work.  I feel that an actor reading an audio book can make or break the story sometimes.  If the actor is terrible, it makes me completely uninterested in the book.

The actor reading this particular book wasn’t too bad.  She made all the guys sound like complete stoners, but overall the read was good.  I liked the story a lot and thought it was a neat take on Arthurian legend.  The characters seemed like real teenagers even if the storyline was pretty out there.  There were quite a few plot holes that I can’t really explain without giving away the whole story.  A lot of the plot is also pretty predictable.

I would recommend this for a quick summer read especially if you’re interested in the legends of King Arthur.


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I think it’s confusing that these two books have the same title and similar colors on the cover:


I think I read a review for the first book – about life after a major disaster – and then went to the library and picked out the second book – a mystery about a missing person.

Seeing the covers side-by-side I realize they are pretty different.  But overall I think they are too similar and of course, the names are the same.

I’m kind of glad I made the mistake, though, because the Shift about a missing person is really good so far.  Review to come.  And I’ll have to get to the library to get a copy of the other Shift.

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